Big Business Moves That Changed History

Big Business Moves That Changed History

Why you should care

Because the Silicon Valley spirit was simmering even back in the ’60s — in stocks, retail and computing.

Nifty 50: The Forgotten Stock Bubble

Investment fads usually run their course quickly and end badly. The “Nifty Fifty” captivated investors for the better part of a decade prior to its demise in 1973, but not before reviving the high-risk investing that had been out of vogue since the crash of ‘29. The 50 stocks identified by Morgan Guaranty Trust represented some of the fastest-growing companies on the planet in the latter half of the 1960s. Their popularity among institutional and individual investors sparked a quantum shift from “value” investing to a “growth at any price” mentality that resurfaced with a vengeance in the tech-stock bubble a quarter-century later. Read more here.

When the Big-Box Stores Were Born

In 1962, the first Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target stores opened their doors. It wasn’t obvious at the time, but as the American South crackled with the tension of decades of segregation and college campuses began to see the first bubblings of student activism, the heartland was ground zero for its own quieter revolution: the retail revolution. Now, the companies that brought to America “blue-light specials” and mass-market Missoni face the biggest challenge to their existence in half a century, and some are predicting the end of an era for big-box retail. Read more here.

The Original Marissa Mayer?

Imagine launching a tech company as a woman in the 1960s — when tech companies, let alone female programmers, were virtually unheard of. That’s exactly what Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley did when she founded freelance programmers, one of the U.K.’s first software startups, which was also managed and operated almost entirely by women. And no, that’s not a typo in the company name; Shirley wittily printed the company’s name in all lowercase because it had no capital — literally. Yet in 1996, it IPO’d for hundreds of millions of pounds on the London Stock Exchange. Read more here.

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